Folding Screens

folding screen with raised borders and decorative hand-painted design
folding screen with raised borders
decorative folding screen with raised antiqued gold wood borders and hand applied silver leaf
decorative folding screen
hand-painted folding screen with peacocks
folding screen with peacock
Japanese folding screens

Japanese Folding Screens

In the VIII century folding screens were introduced in Japan. Due to the customs and particularity of Japanese architecture, for a long time folding screens remained a most important decorative interior embellishment. Japanese with sophistication expressed a connection between home architecture and proportion and shape of a folding screens. The style and motifs of paintings featured on a decorative screens were adjusted according to traditions of the "rising sun country".

Traditionally, in Japanese homes people sat on a floor in a domestic situations as well as during official ceremonies. Accordingly, painted design was concentrated on the bottom part of a screen, so, when person is seated, the most detailed part of a screens design was at eye level.

While most of the pained interior decorative items in Japanese homes had a vertical orientation, decorative folding screens introduced a painted designs with an horizontal compositions that have been developing from right to left. Sometimes the painted designs of the screens were executed at the 30 to 54 degree angle. Japanese artisans "tilted" designs of a room dividers to achieve a most dramatic effect.

Character and compositions of folding screens were largely influenced by Japanese Ho theater. Classic traditional theater's repertoire represented majesty, power, heroism and easily translated into every day living. Rich and influential Japanese aristocrats started incorporating in decoration of they homes painted folding screens, to accentuate they importance and visually resemble an appearance of a powerful and heroic figures on the stage of the Ho theater. Elaborately designed, painted in gold decorative screens provided a backdrop resembling a stage decorations, satisfying the ego of the noble.

Japanese folding screen
This eight-panel folding screen is made from wood and hand-painted in Japanese style. The back of this decorative folding screen is hand-finished in antiqued crackled black. In opposite from Chinese folding screens the Japanese style screens do not have elaborate borders and ornamentation. This folding screen with Japanese design has one large composition that is flows from one panel to the next. Hand-painted design features seven graceful cranes and a river scene with clouds, blooming plum tree and bamboo grass. Cranes are among the prime symbols of longevity and good fortune in Japan... read more about this Japanese style folding screen >>

While Chinese screens have rich and complex ornamentation, the Japanese style of folding screens is known for it's attention to materials and meaningful symbolical compositions. ( Japanese folding screen with cranes ) One of the favorite motifs of the nobles is an old pine tree with bended trunk and branches. Old pine trees in Japanese culture represents wealth and power. Japanese have long believed that rocks, especially those with an unusual shape, embody sacred power and serve as a receptacles for the temporary residence of deities. Whereas we in the West tend to see rocks as lifeless and inert, the oriental culture consider rocks to be among those vessels in which life forces brew and gain power. In this context, rocks often appear on folding screens. In Oriental culture the fact that pine tree is evergreen led to the tree becoming a symbol of longevity, good fortune, and steadfastness. Because of this auspicious associations oriental art - Chinese and Japanese in particular - treat the pine tree as a primary symbol of long life and even immortality, and widely incorporated it into decorative design of furnishing, including decorative folding screens. The middleclass enjoyed decorative screens painted with flowers and birds motifs, the writers preferred folding screens with inspirational landscape paintings. Japanese women had to have a decorative screen in there homes. Due to the complicated system of social roles and taboos a folding screens have strong emotional meanings, associated with secrets, love, flirtation, and female life overall. In many Japanese books folding screens are the only witness of secret meetings and love affairs.


oriental folding screens


history of folding screens - China


folding screens in Europe